Friday, August 22, 2014

Chefs, ice, ALS support, today: What's not to love?

So you might be over the ice bucket challenge raising crazy great money for ALS, but here's a twist: Chef Jim Noble (of Rooster's and The King's Kitchen fame) has challenged chef Joe Kindred (who's worked for Noble and is about to open Kindred in Davidson) to a "double dunk" uptown, at College and Fifth streets near the Square, at 4:15 p.m. today (it's Friday, Aug. 22).

(The back story: Kindred challenged Noble first, but Noble's contending Kindred didn't have ice in his bucket at the time, Noble is upping the stakes and taking it public. Also on the down-low: Rooster's staff folks are slated to show up, too, which I'm told Kindred doesn't know.)

Here's Noble's challenge:

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Fire in the City results begin

Results from the first two Fire in the City matchups:

Aug. 18:

Matchup: Luca Annunziata of Passion8 and Clark Barlowe of Heirloom.
Surprise ingredients: N.C. eggs and molasses from Harrell Hill Farms.
Highest scoring dish of the night: a raviolo using Joyce Farms' Poulet Rouge egg yolk, ostrich carbonara, crispy oyster mushroom, roasted pattypan squash with molasses and charred corn (by Annunziata; shown below, courtesy of Got to Be NC Competition Dining Series).
Advancing: Annunziata, with a score (and we admire this precision) of 29.04825581 to 26.69338999.

Aug. 19:

Matchup: Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta’s and Brian Mottola of e2 Emeril’s Eatery.
Secret ingredients: Windcrest Farms tomatoes and Uno Alla Volta cheese.
Highest scoring dish of the night: Confit of Heritage Farms Cheshire pork tenderloin, Windcrest Farms yellow and green tomato compote, U.A.V. burrata chili grits, heirloom tomato oil, aged sherry jus (by Dyrness; below).
Advancing: Dyrness, 30.02278369 to 22.74213836.

Annunziata and Dyrness face off Sept. 8.

Labor Day brunch in uptown CLT

The 7th Street Public Market hosts a 2014 Labor Day brunch and barbecue, with Local Loaf and other vendors serving up their wares from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Grilled entrees and ice cream, live entertainment (and face painting and balloon art) will be on hand. 224 E. 7th St.;

Upstream's oysters en route

Upstream's sixth annual Oyster Bash will be Oct. 3: You get unlimited tastings of oysters from all over, from Olde Salts to York Rivers to Malpeques and more, plus wines both still and sparkling, and live entertainment and a oyster/wine pairing contest. $125; buy tickets online here or call 704-556-7730; 6902 Phillips Place Court.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Taste of the World coming up

Oct. 2 is the next "Taste of the World" in east Charlotte, which has some 25 participating restaurants this year, with cuisines from five continents. How it works: You buy a ticket ($45; here), and show up at the VanLandingham Estate (registration starts at 4:30 p.m.).

There, you get live music, drinks and tours of the historic property. About 5:45 p.m., you'll board one of the tour buses, each of which has a community guide and a route that takes passengers for samplings of food at three area restaurants. When you return (about 8:45), there'll be a dessert reception, more music and prizes.

Restaurants include: Ben Thanh (Vietnamese), Bistro La Bon (Mediterranean/European/French), Carnitas Guanajuato (Mexican), Dim Sum (Chinese), El Pulgarcito de America (Salvadoran and Honduran), El Rancho (Mexican), Euro Grill (Bosnian), Fiesta Jalisco (Mexican), Fu Lin (Indochinese), Jamile’s (Somalian and more), Kabob House (Persian), Krazy Fish (“world soul seafood fusion”), La Shish Kabob (Middle Eastern), La Terraza (Colombian), Landmark Diner (American), Lang Van (Vietnamese), Letty’s (Southern), Mama’s Caribbean Grill (Jamaican), Mily & Lalo (Peruvian), Motherland (Nigerian), Peculiar Rabbit (American), Portofino’s (Italian), Queen Sheba (Ethiopian), Three Amigos (Mexican) and Woodlands (Indian).

Taste of the World is run by the volunteer group E.A.S.T. (Eastland Area Strategies Team), which seeks to promote and boost economic growth in east Charlotte.

VanLandingham: 2010 The Plaza.

Monday, August 18, 2014

'The Feed' premieres Aug. 21

Chef/author/TV guy Marcus Samuelsson (on right, of Aquavit in New York and lots more), Gail Simmons (Food & Wine special projects director, who you know as a "Top Chef" judge) and "comedian and food writer" Max Silvestri debut Aug. 21 in "The Feed," a show in which they chase trends, and compete in weird challenges.

I've seen an episode and it's reasonably entertaining (though one gets the feeling a producer kept telling Marcus to "turn it up!"): In that, slated to be the second aired, the three tackled a make-your-own-mashup and invented something useful (and Gail's actually was). More info here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Coming up: artisan dinner; beer dinner and a cafe returns (temporarily) from the dead

Heirloom's chef-owner Clark Barlowe does his next artisan dinner Aug. 20 (the following one will be Sept. 24), with producers on hand to talk about what you're eating. On the menu (four courses for $75): N.C. clams, steamed, and Harker’s Island oysters in a Barbee Farm garlic and parsley broth, with Fonta Flora's Alpha Vs. Beta Carotene (a carrot IPA from the Morganton brewer); Lucky Clay’s butter lettuce "cups" with housemade pimento cheese and Anson Mills Carolina Gold rice cakes, with 2012 Jones von Drehle Petite Manseng (a big white wine); Heritage Farm’s crispy pork belly with western N.C.-style barbecue sauce, with NoDa Ramble on Red (a red ale); "Faux Gras" (a beef liver pate made with Salem Hills' grassfed Black Angus) and 2011 Biltmore Cabernet Sauvignon N.C.; and a flourless dark chocolate cake with foraged-wineberry gel, and Jones von Drehle's blackberry dessert wine. 8470 Bellhaven Blvd.; 704-595-7710.

Look for a "beer dinner/picnic" featuring N.C. craft brewers Aug. 21 at D'Vine Wine Cafe. Five courses with six brews for $39.99, with the beers being: Mother Earth Kolsch Style, on draft; Mystery Brewing "Evangeline Saison," Belgian Style, with grilled salmon and spicy Thai salad; Rail House IPA with crabcake and guacamole crema; Rail House K-Bar Brown with grilled sausage; Duck Rabbit Milk Stout with foie burger and roasted potatoes; and Highland Mocha Stout with an espresso brownie sundae. 14815 John J. Delaney Drive; 704-369-5050.

And Bonterra will host a one-day return of the defunct Las Ramblas, the Dilworth tapas place that was once where Toast is now: Sept. 4 will offer a tasting of 21 Spanish wines from the Wine Vault, followed by a three-course Spanish dinner (dishes TBA). Reservations: 704-548-9463; Bonterra is 1829 Cleveland Ave.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wallis wine dinner at Lumiere

Lumiere will do a wine dinner Aug. 26 featuring Wallis Estate, a Napa winery (Diamond Mountain) owned by Marilyn Belk Wallis and her husband, Edward Wallis, that produces just a few hundred cases of wine a year. She'll host the dinner, and the focus will be a four-year vertical of Little Sister, a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Among the courses: braised black pig salad; wild sea bass poached in red wine; dry-aged Piedmontese beef; and vanilla-bean-roasted figs.

$138; tickets here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

New Olde Meck Brewery opens to public

The new Olde Mecklenburg Brewery opens to the public 11 a.m. Aug. 15, on its 8.5-acre facility ("child and pet friendly"!) at 4150 Yancey Road in Charlotte. There's a taproom and restaurant designed to resemble a German bierhall, a big patio and biergarten, and the brewery itself (think 60-barrel) is four times the size of the old one. The copper tap tower pictured above (from OMB's Facebook page) is one of two on-site.

Live music and giveaways are planned, and the place is set to stay open until 11 p.m.

16 Charlotte restaurants get Wine Spectator awards

It's an interesting list, this Wine Spectator awards lineup:

Blue, Del Frisco's and The Fig Tree get Best of Award of Excellences (I just went ahead and picked a word to make plural, since the actual name of the award is nonsensical anyway).

Aria, BLT Steak, Chima, D'Vine Wine Cafe, Fleming's, Gallery, Mama Ricotta's, McNinch House, both locations of Ruth's Chris, Sullivan's, Capital Grille and The Palm won Awards of Excellence.

Notice anything? Steak, steak, steak.

What's up, Morton's? Skip the $250 entry fee, even for the Chicago restaurant? (I have a call in to Morton's and will post when/if I hear back.)

Also of interest: The magazine classifies wine lists as Inexpensive, Moderate or Expensive. Charlotte's strongly in the moderate camp, with Mama Ricotta's deemed inexpensive, and four expensive ones: Capital Grille, Del Frisco's, Fleming's and BLT Steak -- which calls itself "French/American" rather than a steak house, FYI.

Fire in the City approaching

FYI, the first faceoff (Aug. 18) is sold out in the Fire in the City competition dining -- and it'll be one of the more interesting ones, pitting Passion8's Luca Annunziata against Heirloom's Clark Barlowe. (Also FYI, Passion8's latest estimate for its move to Elizabeth is "September.")

The Sept. 29 final is also sold out. A recap of the lineup is below; here's how it all works, and ticket info, etc. is here.

Aug. 19: Tom Dyrness of Mama Ricotta’s vs. Brian Mottola of e2 Emeril’s Eatery.

Aug. 20: David Feimster of Fahrenheit vs. David Quintana of Southminster (a retirement community, not a restaurant).

Aug. 25: David Moore of Gallery vs. Ben Philpott of Block & Grinder.

Aug. 26: Brent Martin of The Summit Room vs. Jon Spencer of Epic Chophouse and Chillfire Bar & Grill.

Aug. 27: Chris Coleman of The Asbury (at the Dunhill) vs. Brian Williams of Upstream.

Sept. 2: Nicolas Daniels of The Wooden Vine vs. Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem.

Sept. 3: Jon Fortes of Mimosa Grill (last year’s City champ) vs. David Sullivan of Fish Market Bar and Grill.

... Upscale there (Davidson)

Executive chef Joe Kindred, of Rooster's uptown, and his wife, Katy, plan Kindred in Davidson by the end of the year or so.

It'll serve chef-driven American fare, housed in an early-1900s building at 131 N. Main St. that was once a pharmacy, and (parts of it) a bookstore and for a time, the former Tom Clark Museum. (Gnomes!)

The Kindreds live in Davidson and, says Katy: "Joe literally grew up walking distance from the space so it is a bit of a homecoming for him.

"It has been our brain child for the better part of a decade and we are so thrilled to watch it come together up here in Davidson where we live with our two kids."

Kindred will sprawl across the building's three floors, with a street-level bar and dining area, the kitchen and a chef's table downstairs and a dining room and private dining upstairs -- plus a patio in the back and side.

Expect prices in the $30-per-person range, according to Katy, who says they both are still working for chef Jim Noble (she's in marketing), who's "like family to us, he has been so unbelievably supportive."

She says she and Joe met at the Pump Room in Chicago, where both were working at the time (she got certified as a sommelier at 21, and has done an array of restaurant and wine work, including stints in Montalcino, Italy, and at Quince in San Francisco). He's also cooked at Tru and 160 Blue in Chicago and at Delfina in San Francisco.

Chicken Salad Chick here (south Charlotte) ...

Chicken Salad Chick is open at 7617 Pineville-Matthews Road in Carmel Commons, the first in what owners Julie Beville and Michelle Singleton plan as a 10-location area hereabouts (they also have sites in Greenville, Lexington and Columbia). Look for 15 flavors of chicken salad (with onions, jalapenos, pineapple/macadamia, ranch/bacon/cheddar, etc.), plus soups, salads and desserts, in a fast-casual setting; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 980-938-8482.

Founder Stacy Brown said in a press release: "We are proud that our restaurants offer not only fresh, homemade food, but also a full Chicken Salad experience!” The chain is based in Alabama and is opening through the Southeast.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Global goes Italian

Global hosts an Italian wine dinner Aug. 14, with Kobrand Fine Wine's Sean Nowak hosting. On the menu: fried capers with smoked egg yolk and tuna tartare, with 2012 Tenuta di Nozzole Le Bruniche Chardonnay, Toscana; lamb pancetta and truffle risotto with 2011 Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera D’Asti Superiore; veal osso buco with 2010 Tenuta Campo Al Mare, Bolgheri; and tellagio cheese, balsamic-braised pine nuts, New Town Farms roasted figs and prosciutto di Parma, with Caposaldo Veneto Prosecco.

Reservation required: $69 (plus tax and tip); 704-248-0866.

Coming up: $1 steak sandwiches! Petite, that is.

Morton’s The Steakhouse celebrates "National Filet Mignon Day" (you had this on your calendar, right?) Aug. 13 with $1 filet mignon sandwiches in the bar area all day (which runs 5-10 p.m. in Charlotte). Note: It's a "petite" sandwich.
“We look forward to commemorating this day with diners at any of our over 70 locations across the country” is the press-release quote from senior VP Tim Whitlock. The Charlotte location: 227 W. Trade St., 704-333-2602;

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

... Chicken Salad Chick there (south Charlotte)

Chicken Salad Chick is open at 7617 Pineville-Matthews Road in Carmel Commons, the first in what owners Julie Beville and Michelle Singleton plan as a 10-location area hereabouts (they also have sites in Greenville, Lexington and Columbia). Look for 15 flavors of chicken salad (with onions, jalapenos, pineapple/macadamia, ranch/bacon/cheddar, etc.), plus soups, salads and desserts, in a fast-casual setting; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday; 980-938-8482.

Founder Stacy Brown said in a press release: "We are proud that our restaurants offer not only fresh, homemade food, but also a full Chicken Salad experience!” The chain is based in Alabama and is opening through the Southeast.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Rural Hill's first wine dinner: Spanish in Huntersville

Rural Hill, a 265-acre working farm, historic site and educational center, hosts its first wine dinner Aug. 16, with the wines of Cena de Vino, via Eric Solomon's European Cellars.

The dinner will be five courses, with an aperitif and wine pairings for each course, and will seat 60 in Rural Hill's cultural center building. On the menu, from chef Tara Quinones: ham croquettes; gazpacho; Mediterranean salad; paella; and flan.

The dinner is by-reservation-only, and $90: 4431 Neck Road (off Beatties Ford Road) in Huntersville:

Friday, August 1, 2014

360 Bistro open

360 Bistro is open at 520 University Center Blvd., from Dan Glasser (a Johnson & Wales of Charleston grad who says he's been everything from an executive chef to a general manager to a caterer in Philadelphia) and exec chef Anthony DeMello. "Between the two of us and my talented management team, we plan to take over the culinary scene in the University area," Glasser emails.

He calls the place an Italian-style bistro with a raw bar twist, and along with starters such as broccoli cheddar soup made with NoDa Brewing's Ghost Hop IPA, and fried artichoke hearts, it offers an array of 10-inch pizzas, pastas ranging from spaghetti with meatballs to lobster ricotta ravioli, and seafood options such as oysters Rockefeller and sesame-crusted seared tuna. Look for local brews from Olde Mecklenburg and NoDa, with drink specials, a tapas menu at the bar and weekend brunch on the horizon. About $8-$19; 980-938-5813;